Nova Prime Irani Rael-Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2


I've got a little bit of progress to share on the vest pattern for the Nova Prime costume. In my last post I showed a picture of the pattern in Optitex. Well, as these things usually go, I've had to go back and tweak a few things here and there so the new pattern is slightly different.

Using Optitex to draft this pattern has been very interesting and certainly a learning experience! If I were to draft this pattern by normal flat pattern techniques I'd fold a whole bunch of 1" pleats on a piece of paper, trace my pattern on top of the pleats, cut it out, then open up the piece of paper. You don't really have the option to do that in Optitex. What I did at first was to make a series of grade points along the contour line where I wanted the pleats to be and then drafted in each pleat one at a time. This looked good on the screen and the piece looked correct when I closed the pleats up. However when it came to print out my pattern and I got to fold it all together something strange happened. I had a couple of pleats folding in the wrong direction (I should have checked counter clock wise instead of clockwise) and then one of them was actually folded over on top of another pleat. It was very odd! 

I ended up going back and starting the piece over again and drafted parallel pleats all at once, eliminated the lower pleated panel, and let the computer determine where the pleats would go. This turned out to be much simpler and probably something I should have done the first time around. Oh well, that's part of learning!

So this morning I sewed up the muslin of the vest in the base size (a size 16) and all the pattern pieces worked out perfectly. I made a slight change to my initial decision to do pleats for the front of the vest and decided to make them all sewn tucks instead. This does not change my pattern piece at all but it means that each pleat has to be sewn down. This drastically changed how the pleats laid across the bust and looks 100x better than my first muslin. 

Some general pointers I have if you decide to make this pattern in the future. First use the same color thread as your fabric and you won't see the stitching under the pleats. When marking the pleats I transferred all the markings of the pleats along the dashed lines of the pattern using tracing paper and a spikey wheel. When folding the pleats the foldline will be in the middle of the dashed lines. Pin the dashed lines together and stitch.

Also, steam is your friend here if you are ironing these pleats. The first mock up I made for the vest was out of some gross thrift store wool and I needed a ton of steam and a clapper (the wooden thing) to flatten the folds of the pleats. 

The final pattern for the vest will have a neckline facing, lining, back separating zipper, and bound armholes. 

Nova Prime Irani Rael-Guardians of the Galaxy: Part 1

Hi Everyone! 
Melanie and I are at it again! Continuing her love of all things Glenn Close, my sister has decided she wants to make a Nova Prime Irani Rael costume from the Guardian's of the Galaxy movie. Being the sweet sister I am, I volunteered to make her pattern and her wig. I'm currently taking a class on pattern grading and computer pattern development using the Optitex software so I not only get to help my sister but I get some great guidance while developing this pattern.

This post today will just be focusing on the pattern for the vest. 

Now if you don't remember this character from the movie she is the leader of the police force wearing a great blue suit and crazy Saturn ring hair.

Now looking at the costume I broke it down into several parts. First is the undershirt with the white collar that peeks out from above the vest and below her sleeves. I'm not going to draft this part. I'm going to leave it up to my sister whether or not she wants to make faux cuffs/collar or make a shirt. I know she can handle it. That leaves a vest which the jacket hooks on to, a skirt, and the outer jacket layer. I ended up sketching the skirt but I'm not going to develop a pattern for it since Mel has a skirt pattern that matches it almost exactly. 

The exhibit photos were taken by Freya over on Flickr. Check out her gallery for more photos of the FIDM movie costume exhibit on display now. 

 Now looking at the vest it has a built up neckline, center yoke, and diagonal pleats running through the bust. You can't see much of the vest besides that. I made a few executive decisions and threw in a princess seam below the bust for better shaping, and did princess seams down the back. I also chose to bind the armholes to keep everything smooth. What you can easily see in the photo above is the panel of hooks where the jacket connects to the vest. Here's a even clearer picture of it.

I developed the pattern in Optitex from a size 16 sloper that I digitized using the digitizer in the lab. My sister is not a size 16, but as part of my project I had Mel develop and fit her own sloper. She will be sending it to me and I will be grading the pattern to fit her. A bonus of developing the pattern in Optitex is that I can easily change the pattern for additional sizes when I develop a grade system.

Anyway, here are my sketches for the costume. Notice my sketch of the vest does not have the princess line on the lower side front portion. I decided to add that in while drafting the pattern. Also my hook and eye guide has 5 hooks despite the fact that the jacket only has four. My sketches were done before the exhibit photos were taken. The exhibit photos have also given me the chance to see that the skirt is a 6 panel gore skirt and not a darted one like I have sketched. That's what happens when there are only screenshots to work from!

For the vest I incorporated a 2" wide back neck facing and cut a front facing from the combined front yoke pieces. I left the front facing with a center front seam in order to make it easier to line up the seams. I drafted a seperate pattern piece for the lining of the pleated part of the vest. I transferred all the access of the bust shaping in that area to a tuck at the shoulder seam to allow the lining fabric some space to move. 

The pleated portion of the front panel is broken up into an upper section and lower section in order to contour over the bust. 

Here is what the finished pattern pieces look like in Optitex

 I will eventually be making this in different sizes and offering them as a download if people are interested. I will be making a muslin mock up of this pattern in the next coming weeks. Next is the jacket!!

Anna Coronation Dress- Part 3

Hi everyone!
This installment of my Anna Coronation costume progress will be detailing how I drafted the skirt and the designs for the embroidery. There is a bit of math involved so I will try to be clear and concise!

Anna’s skirt is made up of a series of box pleats. A box pleat is formed by making folds in the fabric like this:

Anna's skirt is made of three different colors of fabric, a forest green for the embroidered panels, a lighter lime green edging, and a dark green inside pleat. 

You will need four pattern pieces for the skirt:

1. The embroidered panel

2. Light green side panel

3. Inside underlay for the pleat

4. Back of the pleat

Now in order to draft the skirt we will need a few measurements to start. The first you will need is your measurement around the place on your body where you want your skirt to start. If you are planning to wear any kind of shapewear or corset underneath your costume you should get this measurement while you are wearing the shapewear. I am going to have my skirt start slightly below my natural waistline. The finished measurement I want plus a little bit of ease (I added about an inch) is 31.5. 

You will also want the finished length of your skirt. If you are going to wear a petticoat and flats (which Anna wears in the movie) then measure the distance from your desired waistlineto the floor, over the petticoat. Record this. My skirt will be 40 inches long. We will add seam allowances and hem depth later.

Now determine how many pleats you want. I based my count on this image and decided on 12 panels total, three for each quadrant of my body. This will also allow me to install a zipper at center back inside of the center back pleat. 

Now we are going to start by drafting pieces 1 and 2 at the same time. When folded up, the 12 panels should equal the width of our waist. So to figure out how big each panel should be we can take out waist measurement and divide it by 12.

31.5 / 12 = 2.625 or 2 5/8 

Each panel (which includes piece 1 with two piece 2's next to it, should measure 2.625" total across the top. 

Now we need to know how wide the panel should be at the bottom. If you have your petticoat take a large piece of string or a measuring tape and measure around the width of your petticoat to estimate how wide the skirt should fall when worn. I made mine 120" so each of my panels would need to be 10" wide at the bottom.

Now take a large piece of paper that is at least 5 inches longer than your desired length and 5 inches wider than your desired width and fold it in half lengthwise. Take the top width of your panel and divide it by two. (2.625/2=1.3) and draw a perpendicular line at the top edge of your paper that equals this distance. Measure along the foldline your desired length of your skirt. From this spot draw a line that is half the desired width of the bottom of your panel (in my case 5 inches). Connect these lines. 

Now looking at the picture of Anna, the width of the light green panel is not the same at the top as it is on the bottom. However it should be noted that the width of the two side panels equals the width of the center panel. So for example if the bottom of my panels is a total of 10 inches, the center of the panel should be 5 inches (where the embroidery will go) and on each side there should be a 2.5" green stripe. At the top my green stripe is 5/8" wide and tapers to 2.5" wide at the bottom. Draw this on the inside of your panel that you drew.

Now cut out your panel without cutting out the green striped section. Keeping the piece folded, trace it onto another piece of paper. This newly traced piece will now become piece 3, the inside of the pleat. Open up your folded outer pleat and trace around it on another sheet of paper, this is now piece 4, the back of your pleat. Now you can cut the green striped section off (you should end up with two since your piece is folded in half, I just discarded one) I decided to just combine piece 3 and 4 so when I cut out piece 3 I will just fold piece 4 in half. You can make two separate pieces or just make one. 

I added some notches onto my pattern so I can keep track of which panel gets sewn to which when I go to put it together. It is very important to note that these pieces DO NOT have seam allowances or hem allowances included. You can retrace them and add seam allowances, cut some extra paper and tape them on, or mark the seam allowances directly onto your fabric. 

Now here comes to tough part- figuring out the placement of the motifs on the skirt panels!

I think one of the most important things to consider when making cosplay costumes is taking the proportion of the original design and scaling it to your body correctly. The way I like to do this is to measure a reference image and scale it up to fit my desired garment measurements. Looking at the photos of Anna from the movie the motifs on her skirt are not the same size at the top as they are at the bottom.

I wanted the proportion of my motifs to reflect the proportion of the motifs in the original reference. In order to figure this out I used this image for reference.

From here I measured the length of the skirt in the picture and figured out what percentage each motif was of the length. For example, in the picture I measured, her skirt measured three inches total, the length between each diamond shape starting from the top was 1', then 5/8" then 1/2", then 1/3" then 1/4" then 1/8" So when I did the math the first motif made up 33% of the total length, the second made up 20.8%, the third 16.67%, the fourth 11.11%, the fifth 8.33% and fifth 4.17%. I was then able to take these percentages and figure out the total length of each motif by multiplying these percentages by my 40" length. I marked them on my original pattern piece and wrote each distance on the pattern.

Now from this point your prefered method for making the motifs may differ. Since this costume is fairly popular, there are a number of people who have already posted files of what Anna's embroidery looks like up close. Dokitude is one of those people! She posted up vector files of the basic embroidery for Anna's dress.  They need to be sized appropriately in order to be ready to use. I do not have an embroidery machine, so I used her file as a basis for creating my own pattern in Adobe Illustrator that I could print out and trace onto my fabric. 

I used Adobe Illustrator to create a full size version of my skirt panel, and boxed out the length between each motif based on the scaled measurements. I then scaled and moved the motifs until I was satisfied with the layout. I was then able to print out the panel in full size, add seam allowances and trace it directly onto my fabric.

Using tracing paper I marked the placement of the motif on my fabric and marked each one with a ball point pen. 

I chose to make the motifs by hand embroidering them using satin stitches outlined in split stitches. I am using water solulable backing and an embroidery hoop. Each panel takes about a week so I will working on the skirt for the next couple of months. As of this post I have 3 of 12 of the panels done!

Feel free to ask me any questions about the draft or the construction of my skirt so far!

Until next time, happy sewing!

Anna Coronation Dress Part 1

This blog post was originally published on my old website and has been reposted here unchanged.

Well it’s that time of year again when school is done for the summer, ITAA projects are finished and turned in, and I’m itching for a new project. I have really important graduate school tests to take over the summer, so my goal with my new project is to provide me something I can work on in my downtime at night after writing all day. My project would double as my Halloween costume, so it has to be fun. I decided on Anna’s Coronation gown from Frozen since I love the movie, my sister in law is convinced I am Anna, and my 2 year old niece will love it. The embroidery will keep me occupied for most of the summer so it’s perfect.

Since Frozen is so popular I thought I’d document my process in an almost tutorial like fashion in case other cosplayers are interested in how my costume is made.

I’m going to start from the inside out (sorta) I’m starting with her petticoat, then skirt, bodice, wig, and then finally her bloomers.

Today I am starting with the petticoat.

Anna’s dress has a very distinct motion in the movie, and behaves differently than most ballgowns would. Her petticoat is frequently seen when she kicks up her legs, jumps, and dances.

It appears to be a cream color, with a scalloped hem and decorative stitching. The petticoat helps to poof out her dress somewhat, but is easily collapsible, suggesting that there is no built in hoop, no visible layers of tulle, just a single layer with enough body to stand out.

Since the scene takes place in summer, it is likely the petticoat is made of a cotton-like fabric. Cotton would be period accurate, and also very breathable.

My goal with making this petticoat is to try and mimic the movement of the dress while maintaining the body the dress has while she’s standing still. In the screenshots there is no visible vertical seam lines. If the skirt was made with a single length of fabric I would be limited to 120” of fabric. I don’t think this will be wide enough so I’m going to add vertical seam lines. There is also no clear line where the facings of the scallops would be, implying the dress is lined up to the upper edge. I think a double layer of cotton would be too heavy, so I am opting for a faced scallop hem instead which will correspond with the horizontal line of decorative stitching shown in the above photos.

Lastly since the transition from her bodice to her skirt is fairly smooth, the fullness of the petticoat cannot interfere with the smoothness of this line. For this reason I will be making a yoke to stitch the petticoat onto which will then be tied at the waistline. If I wear a shaping corset underneath the bodice and over the petticoat, this will create the smooth line I am going for.

This is roughly the look I am going for. This is a crude rough sketch just to get an idea of the shape and pattern pieces. There will be a small slit at center back that will open for the drawstring. I haven’t decided how I am going to do the scallop embroidery yet but I will get to that in another post. For now I will just post about my progress so far.

I decided to flat line the cotton fabric with a thick nylon crinoline material to help give the fabric some body. I picked a crinoline in a color that is very similar to the outer fabric in the hopes that it will blend in well. The crinoline came in 54” wide bolts so I decided to make flat lining easier with little fabric waste I purchased 108” wide cotton muslin and cut it right down the middle.

I cut each of the large skirt sections in 36” long pieces. The rest of the length will be made up of the yoke section. If you are going to be doing this method always remember to check that the grain of your fabric is laying straight. I snipped and tore my fabric so I would end up with exact lengths, but check out how much my fabric was off grain straight off the bolt! With some stretching I got it pretty close to straight. Straightening the grain line of your fabric is important no matter what project you are working on!

Once I had the pieces laying straight I overlaid the crinoline on the top and pinned it all the way around the outside as flat as possible. At this point I serged them together along each side. If you don’t have a serger you can just straight stitch them together and do your seam finish when you go at attach the sides.

Once I had one panel serged together I threw some temporary gathering stitches to see how tight I could gather the material up. This allowed me to see how many panels I could theoretically stitch onto a yoke roughly 1.5x my waist. I ended up deciding to use five panels.

Once I had all five panels serged around the edges I stitched them together end to end until I had one long panel. Then I measured the length of my bottom edge to help figure out how long of a facing piece I’d have to cut. This also let me measure how big I wanted my scallops to be. I then created a pattern for the scallops that I will be transferring to the facing piece.

Next post will be about stitching the scallops and testing the embroidery!